Back from the Brink Background

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Wisconsin is launching a campaign calling on Madison to support a “Back from the Brink” resolution. The resolution endorses the 2017 United Nations ban of nuclear weapons, calls for specific steps to prevent nuclear war, and a commitment to nuclear weapons-free contracts and investments.

About Back from the Brink

The UN passed a Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty in July of 2017. It is likely that at least 50 states will ratify the Treaty and it will become international law within the next several years. The 9 nuclear states that did not sign the Treaty will come under pressure to disarm.

In September 2017, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) organized the Back from the Brink campaign in support of the UN Treaty.  The campaign has slowly been gaining momentum. It calls on the US to embrace the 2017 United Nations Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty by actively pursuing a verifiable agreement with other nuclear-armed states to eliminate nuclear arsenals AND to:

Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP  Source:  Treaty banning nuclear weapons approved at UN

Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP

Source: Treaty banning nuclear weapons approved at UN

  • End the president's sole, unchecked authority to launch a (preemptive) nuclear attack.

  • Renounce the option of using nuclear weapons first.

  • Take U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert.

  • Cancel the plan to replace the entire U.S. arsenal with enhanced weapons. (Source)

The US Conference of Mayors endorsed a Back from the Brink Resolution incorporating these recommendations in June 2018; Madison’s former Mayor Soglin was one of its sponsors. In the last 2 years, over 30 cities, including Baltimore, MD, Ithaca, NY, Salt Lake City, UT, Los Angeles, CA. and the states of California and Oregon have passed Back From the Brink resolutions. (Source)



A number of cities around the country have also passed resolutions that commit them to nuclear weapons-free contracts and investments including Takoma Park, MD, Oakland, CA, Arcata, CA, Cambridge, MA, Ojai, CA and Northampton, MA. 



In 1983, the Madison City Council passed an ordinance declaring the city a nuclear free zone”.  We are asking our City Council members (Alders) to pass a Back from the Brink Resolution which builds on this ordinance and commits the city to nuclear weapons free contracts and investments. Our City already has a socially responsible investment policy in place; it no longer invests in fossil fuel companies. We are asking the City do the same regarding nuclear weapons production.

Some say nuclear disarmament is an issue that should be taken up with our Senators and Representatives rather than our City Council members. But national policy has local consequences.

Plans are underway to expand the Truax Air Force base in Madison and bring in F-35 fighter jets designed to carry B61 nuclear bombs. If nuclear capable F-35’s were stationed here, Truax would become a nuclear target.

In the event of a nuclear-armed F-35 crash, Madison could be exposed to air, ground and water contamination with plutonium, even if a nuclear chain reaction did not take place.

Co-sponsors of Madison Back from the Brink Resolution: 350 Madison, the First Unitarian Society Social Justice Ministry, the Four Lakes Green Party, the Friends Meeting of Madison, the Interfaith Peace Working Group (IPWG), Physicians for Social Responsibility – Wisconsin, Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society Social Action Committee, Progressive Dane, Veterans for Peace - Chapter 25, the Wisconsin Network for Peace, Justice and Sustainability and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.